"A. Face 2 Face with Wu Chin-Chin" (and Araki Nobuyoshi) at Zen Foto Gallery

© Wu, Chin-Chin. Image courtesy of the gallery
This is the first Tokyo exhibition of the Beijing-based artist Chin-Chin Wu. It features her 2006–2008 project Visà -Vis, Portraits of New Women, in which fifty young women from Paris and Beijing posed for their “intimate portraits.” Upon entering the gallery, the viewers are invited to gaze into an aperture in a red lacquered peep-box installed just high enough making it necessary for all under seven feet tall to stand on a small wooden stool. The voyeristic effort is rewarded with a tiny illuminated image set against the back wall of the box. This quick throw back to Marcel Duchamp’s in/famous Etant Donnés, seems to address the elephant-in-the-room inherent in any art featuring female genitalia. Wu questions the inherently voyeuristic nature of viewing nudity just as she asserts the agency of the woman who participated in the Visà-Vis shoots by engaging them in a dialogue about the meaning of these portraits. Many of their utterances are featured in the making-of video that is also part of the show. Wu’s photographs are further contextualized by a selection of ten silver gelatin prints by Nobuyoshi Araki, hung in two tight rows. Araki’s work makes for an interesting juxtoposition with Wu’s, in my opinion, because it accentuates the raw sexuality of his work. Next to his, Wu’s photographs, for all their overtness, appear almost chaste: the viewers of her portraits do not need to worry about participating in the predatory visual act, her focus is the aesthetic differentiation.

There are eight large-format ink jet prints on view, with the rest of the project available for perusal in an eponymous publication by GALERIE VEVAIS (edited by Alexander Scholz). The book will be on sale in about one month in both hardcover and softcover versions. You can find additional information about the publication and see more of Chin-Chin’s works on her webpage.

Due to the graphic nature of the show the gallery had to set a series of deterrents for visitors that might seek things other than art enjoyment. If you decide to visit the exhibition (you have to be over 20 years of age), please make an email reservation with the gallery (amanda@zen-foto.jp). When you arrive you will be asked to sign a waver stating that you do not find the contents offensive, and pay an exhibition membership fee of 3000 yen. Once inside you will have your pick of Zen Foto publication to the value of the fee. The show is at Zen Foto Gallery, on view through May 23.

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